Windows – How to create a virtual wireless network adapter for testing

virtualizationvmwarewindows 10windows 7wireless-networking

I need to do a few tests on wireless adapter management via group policy. The most convenient way to do this is via a virtual environment hosted on my workstation, and for most scenarios there are no additional hurdles to doing this.

Unfortunately, the host does not have a wifi card and I am having serious issues finding Windows 7+* or VMWare Workstation 14 features that support creating a virtual wireless card, or even just starting up a network connection with no backing hardware.

*If functionality has been introduced in Windows 10 for this, a test in this OS would also be valid.

All I need to do is ensure the group policy configuration is applying the right settings – testing on physical devices comes later, ideally when we have some confidence they will at least be getting the configuration we expect, even if that turns out to not work.

So even showing an adapter that was classed as 'disconnected' would suffice for my purposes, as I would be able to check the adapter properties & ensure the wireless network preferences and security settings defined have applied as expected.

Are there any Windows 7+ commands, third party programs, or alternative hypervisors that are are capable of either:

  • Creating a (disconnected, but present) wireless adapter entry in the network connections list with no further functionality? (i.e. it will always show as disconnected and no data can be sent on it, but you can check that configurations affecting wireless networks have been properly applied to it.)
  • Even better, in terms of potential future utility, creating a 'host-only' 'wireless' network capable of simulating various things like signal strength, multiple imaginary access points and EAP-TLS connection negotiation?

Things I've tried:

  • Manually adding a wireless network card with device manager (The machine detects it has no backing hardware, so it doesn't even show a new wireless connection in the control panel -> network connections adapter list, despite the wifi adapter being an installed (malfunctioning) device driver-wise.)
  • Creating a hosted network with netsh wlan set hostednetwork (Hosted network is created, but when you try to start it, it will detect there is no compatible hardware and refuse to start.)
  • Checking VMWare workstation options (additional virtual cards can be created, but they are always seen as wired networks.)

Best Answer

  • Here is a Virtual NIC driver. It's an open source project so if it doesn't support wireless adapters you might be able to modify the source to create a dummy wifi card:

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